From the Director: July 1, 2016

July 1, 2016

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The first time I heard about Xavier High School in Micronesia was in 1996. I was a sophomore at Canisius High School in Buffalo, New York.  I was in Algebra II/Trigonometry class, and Fr. Rich Zanoni, S.J. was my teacher.  Fr. Zanoni cancelled class one very cold winter day to show us his photos from his time as principal of Xavier from 1976 to 1979.  I remember being captivated completely by this place once called Truk on the screen in front of me.  It would have been impossible for me to know that I’d be sent there, less than ten years later, in my second year as a Jesuit.  When I arrived, I learned everyone was using the more appropriate name of Chuuk.  When I left Xavier after my six-month assignment was complete, it would have been impossible for me to know that I’d return in exactly ten years as the Director of the school.  I always hoped I return to Micronesia someday, but I never expected it to be this soon or in this capacity.

On my first day as Director, the overwhelming emotion I feel is gratitude.  I am especially grateful for the help Fr. Bob Pecoraro, S.J. has been to me in this time of transition.  Micronesia is holy ground, surrounded by holy water.  I have had profound experiences of God’s love for me and for the world during my time there, and I draw upon such moments quite often, as if they were a kind of spiritual well. Today, I hear God’s voice softly calling me back to the Pacific and that voice elicits in me an excitement that is difficult to describe.  I think about Xavier all day long.  Micronesia is a place that has meant a great deal to me in my life, because it has cultivated within me a more robust view of the Church, the Society of Jesus, Jesuit education, and the world.  I look forward with tremendous excitement and hope for the new things I will learn there, the people who are about to come into my life, and the new ways God will reveal the kind of love that is unique to God alone.

Finally, the Superior General of the Jesuits, Fr. Adolfo Nicolás, S.J. has said that “depth of thought and imagination are distinguishing marks of the Ignatian tradition.”  As a Jesuit institution, we share in that vision of depth for our school.  There are many stories in the Gospels that involve maritime themes and adventures.  A close Jesuit friend of mine and I share a fondness for verse four from chapter five of Luke’s Gospel, in which we find Jesus in a boat with his friends.  It reads, “When Jesus had finished speaking, He said to Simon, ‘Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.’”  Micronesia is home to one of the deepest parts of the ocean–the Mariana Trench.  Perhaps it is not a small coincidence that God’s love feels so deep there, as well.

Please be assured of my prayers for Xavier as I prepare for my arrival on Mabuchi Hill later this month.

For Xavier,

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Fr. Dennis M. Baker, S.J.

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